DID YOU READ

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed (photo)

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Originally reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

A hallmark of Spanish horror in recent years has been the long take, something that’s been perfected by the disciples of Guillermo del Toro like “The Orphanage”‘s Juan Antonio Bayona and “Julia’s Eyes”‘s Guillem Morales and the filmmakers behind shockers like “[REC].” Of course, slow burns have always been part of the genre, but the lack of cutaways feel particularly disconcerting to an increasing ADD generation and have been used to convey a reality to the terrifying creep of zombies, ghosts and other monsters of the night. Strangely, the trend towards unflinching takes has largely ignored the horror potential of actual reality, something that writer/director Miguel Ángel Vivas appears to be well aware in his arresting sophomore feature.

I wasn’t counting, but I’d be surprised to learn if there were more than 50 cuts in “Kidnapped,” Vivas’ 86-minute endurance test about the home invasion of a well-to-do family who just moved into their new home in the Madrid suburbs. “Kidnapped” (or as the subtitles reveal its original title “Hostages”) doesn’t stray far from the formula one has come to expect of such films, save for a blistering opening sequence that shows the aftermath for a previous victim. There are three thieves, dressed in black, and a family of three, whose only conflict appears to be that their 18-year-old daughter Isa (Manuela Vellés) wants to go out with her boyfriend instead of partaking in a housewarming dinner. She is halfway out the door when the burglars burst through a glass window on the side of the house and proceed to tie up the women and dispatch one man to take the family’s patriarch Jaime (Fernando Cayo) out to collect money from various ATMs.

Whereas most filmmakers would derive their tension from the unknown, Vivas divides the screen into two as Jaime drives around the city to empty out his bank accounts and Isa and her mother Marta (Ana Wagener) are tortured by the two thieves who are waiting for Jaime to return. One can see the fear and uncertainty in Jaime’s eyes as he suspects the worst and Vivas simultaneously shows the audiences that what is actually happening to Jaime’s wife and daughter isn’t too far off. The split-screen is really the only concession Vivas seems willing to make to break the reality he’s constructed, not partaking in the darkly comic sense of humor or reaction shots for the usual pockets of relief. Sometimes the camera is trained on the floor or a shelf with family pictures on it as the echo of conversations trickle in the background, but for the most part in “Kidnapped,” the more you know, the more you clench your teeth.

Ironically, you don’t notice what “Kidnapped” is missing until well after it’s over – the characters, bad and good, all radiate an intelligence about what they’re doing that masks the fact they’re mostly variations on types we’ve seen many times before, the film is based in real time, but doesn’t work against a ticking clock, and up until the climax, much of its violence is inflicted psychologically rather than physically. Although I was mildly disappointed in the film’s ending, not because it betrays the spirit of what came before, but its tidiness wasn’t particularly satisfying, “Kidnapped” is such a display of muscular filmmaking that its shortcomings as a sophisticated drama will just have to cede to its impressiveness as a taut thriller. (The film’s brutality also raises the questions about audience complicity that Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” was intended to address without the wink; the idea that “Kidnapped” was made as an exposé of the very real problem of home invasions in Spain seems a bit opportunistic at best.)

As I overheard when the audience staggered out of the screening I saw, when someone heard his friend hadn’t made it into see “Kidnapped,” he didn’t even ask what he saw in its place, simply patting him on the shoulder and saying, “then you saw the wrong film.”

“Kidnapped” is now available on VOD and will open in theaters on June 17th.

Will you want to see “Kidnapped”? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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